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Machine Men
January 19, 2005

Man, that Baten Kaitos. I just can't decide if I like it or not. Every time I get upset at the whole random aspect of it, I get drawn back in by the graphics and music. It certainly isn't the story that does it. :P

Let's get to these long-delayed letters, shall we?

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Yet another Nocturne fan.

Hey Daniel,

I'm going to have to go with Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne as my favorite RPG of the year, although it was a pretty tough decision between it and Star Ocean. To be completely honest with you, 2004 was just a killer year for us RPG players. I have been playing games like crazy, but I haven't even had the chance to play half of the RPGs release within just the last 2 months alone.

I was expecting Nocturne to surprise me, but it did more than that. It blew me out of the water. The storyline was the most captivating part of the whole experience for me. The whole "post-apocalyptic" setting is pretty rare nowadays. This is one of the few RPGs that appeals to a mature audience, and we need more RPGs like this.

As for the difficulty, people can say what they want, but I like it. I can usually blow through a typical RPG without getting too many Game Overs, and that gets to be a little boring. When I kept dying over and over (and over) in Nocturne, it really made me want to keep playing, and I had a blast doing it. I can safely say I have had more Game Overs in Nocturne on both Difficulty Modes than I have in all my other RPGs combined, and I welcome the difficulty. And visually, this game is the most breathtaking cel-shading I have ever seen. The only bad things I had to say about Nocturne were the small amounts of experience enemies drop, and the ridiculously high encounter rate. Except for the latter, the former doesn't take away much from the game.

I guess the game to compare all the 2004 RPGs to is Star Ocean. What a great game. Damn near everything in this package shines. But the battle system is what sells Star Ocean. It is the best battle system I have ever seen, and it's fast, smooth, and just downright fun. There was just no limit to what you could do on the battlefield.

The problem with Star Ocean is that it's just so full of cliches. I loved the game's story, but some of the missions were just incredibly unoriginal. A lot of the futuristic lingo was taken right off the Sci-Fi Channel, and while it was cool, it just got a little old. Seriously, I expected to see someone from Star Trek pop up during the cutscenes. And the whole "we must go and retrieve this item in order to protect the castle, but first we have to venture through a perilous dungeon and find this person that knows how to use it" mission objective was fun at first, but it really detracted from the overall experience. I understand that not all games can be entirely original, but it doesn't seem like Tri-Ace went too far out of their way to create an authentic storyline this time around.

And this is why Nocturne is my favorite RPG of 2004. I hope I can say the same about DDS for 2005.

Mike Wilson (Onyx Dimension)

You think this past year was a good year for RPGs, eh? That's funny, because I think it was the exact opposite. :P

While I don't know much about the main Shin Megami Tensei games, I have played both of the Persona games that have been released over here. From my experience with those games, I can see that Nocturne wouldn't be my cup of tea. If the encounter rate is anywhere near as high as that of the first Persona, then I would absolutely loathe the game.

People like to bash on Star Ocean 3's story, and for good reason. But really, was the second game's story any better? I think not. While I like tri-Ace's games, there's only one of them that has a decent story to match the fantastic gameplay: Valkyrie Profile. None of their other games come as close to being the total package as that game does.

 
Ah, the eternal question.

I was just wondering if Dragon Warrior 8 was being released in North America next year. Because the game looks great and I'm just hoping it does. Also is there anything on a new Chrono Game, I know square-enix did a survey on what games would we like to see on the DS, and it had a chrono name on it, I don't care what system its on DS, Ps2, or Gamecube, I'm just wondering if you think we might just might hear something come E3. Thanks

Actually, you mean Dragon QUEST VIII. According to this news story, this will be the first game in the series to ditch the whole Warrior thing. There's no concrete release date as of yet, however.

And as far as a new Chrono game goes...don't hold your breath. :P

OMFG MISATO!!!!111111 <3 \m/ ^_^ \m/

I was reading online about some Evangelion video games. I thought it was a very bad idea, and although I know GAINAX is just milking the Eva name for all it's worth, I think that even if the games were good, I'd still despise them for making them. I heard they were bad anyway...

On a topic you might actually post, I'd like to say that I thought that Baten Kaitos's music was much better than Star Ocean 3's. It still is obviously Sakuraba, but I think the setting in Baten Kaitos more lends itself to his style.

I'm not a huge fan of Sakuraba, but I suppose he's good nonetheless. (The fact that I own the SO2 and VP OSTs speaks for itself, I'd suppose.)

Finally, I really enjoyed Shadow Hearts, even with the abysmal voice acting. (In my opinion, not as bad as Baten Kaitos or Tales of Eternia, but really bad.) Is Shadow Hearts 2 as good?

After a long and completely incoherant e-mail, with no Xenosaga references (But one Eva one),

- The Xeno-Eva Fan, Xenofan 29A

Well, you can't really assume that games based off shows or movies are bad these days. The Spider Man games released last year were great, and the FPS based off The Chronicles of Riddick was apparently far more enjoyable than the film.

Of course, it's probably safe to assume that about an Eva game. You know, it being the most overrated anime series in existence. So they say, anyway. I thankfully haven't seen enough of the stuff to judge it for myself. :P

The music in Baten Kaitos is fantastic. I think it's Sakuraba's best work since Valkyrie Profile, and completely dominates the SO3 OST in every conceivable way.

One of the most obvious changes between Shadow Hearts and its sequel is the quality of the voice work. The rest of the game is fundamentally the same.

 
Closing Thoughts

Well, so ends another update. Keep your eyes open for a new topic...just as soon as I think of one. :P

~ Daniel Stringer (letters@rpgfan.com)



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